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March 19, 2011

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March 19, 2011

A life changing experience: Working at DIR-India changed my outlook! Before working for DIR, all I wanted to do specialization in some plush medical field, earn good money and that's it! Working for DIR, changed my outlook towards life in general and my future career direction in specific. As a physician just out of medical school, I worked on teaching the health promoters (bright young people who were hired from the area of operation) the basics of medicine, nutrition, vaccination, hygiene and disease prevention, and they, in turn, diligently visited each house in their alloted area to teach the residents what they had learned. Such a simple model, really, and an exceedingly cost effective one. And the results of this intervention were nothing short of dramatic. A childhood vaccination rate approaching 100%, a reduction of prevalence of children with malnutrition below the national average of India! It was then that I realized the importance of public health, realized that interventions need not be fancy and expensive to make the highest impact. I don't know about how anyone else would be affected by such an experience, but for me it indeed was a life changing one, so much so that I went on to pursue a degree in public health. As a result of this, DIR will always be close to my heart, and the person behind it all, Dr. Frederick Shaw, is a role model in my life - an idol who I try to emulate always (though I frequently fail to get myself up to his standards).

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Changing the outlook of people in Janta Colony (one of the slum areas where DIR operates) towards health, nutrition and disease prevention.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Get it more funding. Even though the work Developing Indigenous Resources is doing is tremendous and groundbreaking, the current economic situation has made it very difficult to get funding.

November 18, 2010

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November 18, 2010

At DIR (India), Nayagaon, Punjab, the first noticeable aspect is a transparency in accounting and work ethics. The next is near perfect mapping of the work area and feed back on every individual and activity. In a slum, heavily populated by migrants from all parts of India, who have no records or identity cards, people become a faceless, right-less mass with no recourse to even the basic facilities of food, water, hygeine or health, let alone education and jobs. Dr. Frederick Shaw is trying to right all these wrongs. With his usual hands-on approach, he is making life better for these people. The DIR School, with children between 2 and 6 years, readies children for higher education in the city. The CASE project takes teens off the streets, to educate them about health and nutrition through lectures, games and field work. Later, as adults, they can get jobs as Health Promoters, who earn salaries and work with every family assigned to them. Most purchases are made in the local bazar to help the economy of the area. DIR =School>CASE>Health Promoters> Better Economy. The programme is perfect for a country that has a definite but invisible line between the rich and the very poor. DIR can do with donations in cash and kind.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

30 children, who passed out of the DIR SCHOOL, are now in three schools in Chandigarh. The CASE programme has raised the health, nutrition and weight levels of underweight children in this slum. Through well trained health promoters, mortality levels are down, immunisation of children is efficient and TB patients are well medicated.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

...ask all foreigners to learn some Hindi or Punjabi to enable better communication. Do not judge these peoples' cultural values and norms by Western standards, but try to understand the reasons and values motivating slum dwellers. Have very clearly tabulated rules and regulations and assign every member of DIR with time bound tasks, inculcating the organisation's philosophy and expectations.

November 12, 2010

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November 12, 2010

Supporting good works has always been important to me, but it's hard to be certain that my money goes to help the people who need it, rather than line someone else's pockets. I KNOW money donated to DIR goes to help the people, because after hearing about the success of Dr. Shaw's projects, and seeing first hand the work in Janta colony, I volunteered to be the treasurer of DIR. The success of the work DIR does is unparalleled as far as I know, and is tremendous - in terms of lives saved and helped - any way you want to measure it.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing and talking to the people the program serves.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Clone Dr. Shaw. Seriously, I would document the processes so that the program can be easily replicated.

January 12, 2010

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January 12, 2010

I am a Physician Assistant licensed in the state of California. The only adjective that comes to mind when describing my volunteering experience with DIR in Chandigarh, India is "blessed". I had the opportunity to work extensively with Frederick Shaw and ancillary staff in April 2009 teaching Medical Terminology and Anatomy and Physiology to the field health providers of the Janta Colony in Chandigarh. The dedication, integrity, and unwavering good hearts of all concerned was incredibly moving for me. The good that resulted from their deep caring was evident not only "objectively" (in a clinical sense) but in the deepest heartfelt sense as well. In that regard one need not have looked any further than the glowing smiles of both the workers, and the recipients of such tireless,profound generosity...I will carry their good hearts always.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Chandigarh, India both in a teaching capacity and "on the ground" in the Janta colony as well.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Have better housing options for prospective volunteers. (This of course is a funding issue)

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The single pointed selflessness and clarity of mission.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Deeply committed

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Effect the most profound changes in countless lives. It really is not possible to enumerate all the potential good, and the myriad levels at which lives would be affected in such short a space. I suggest donating what one can, and extrapolating the result

Ways to make it better...

I could have spent more time helping.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Receiving adequate funding so that their ability to deliver needed services is assured.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

December 27, 2009

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December 27, 2009

I'm a Sociology graduate from the Netherlands. I volunteered at DIR from February 2007 till June 2007 and it was a great experience! I immediately felt this organization is honest, warm and very eager to tell people in the slums about health, food and hygiene. I was stunned about the immunization project and the care for children and pregnant women. DIR educate local people from the slum (Health Promoters) with passion. Each Health Promoter gains the trust of people in their own district and spreads the message of DIR. The knowledge of the disciplined Health Promoters is widespread. The fact that information DIR is bringing comes from local people explains the speed of DIR successes. In June 2009 I will return to Chandigarh to see the progress DIR made in the last two years; I can't wait!

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

warm, kind, open, enthousiastic, eager, smart; their hearts are filled with DIR.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

expand to far more slums to create the same concept, because what works in small scale, will definitely work in large scale as well!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2007

December 23, 2009

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December 23, 2009

After spending 30 odd years I came back to India 4 years back to pay back my debts to society. I work in the area of primary education and vocational , job oriented courses. I am a bit vary of NGOs in general because most of them spend more time in getting themselves photographed than in actual work. I found DIR a noble exception. And a pleasure to work with as a volunteer. In an extremely poor area of demotivated people they provide health care using local persons. Difference in attitude, work culture of local DIR persons is an eye opener if one is aware of the general attitude of people living in the area. Educational facilities for young kids are at a level that after two years these slum kids can get an opportunity to join the best schools. I think DIR and Dr. Shaw are doing a fantastic transformational job.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

teaching pre-school kids, interaction of health care workers with local community.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Confidence and sense of purpose with which the health care persons worked. Joy in the eyes of children. ( May be I am translating it into hope which these children would not have without DIR)

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Well motivated, and a desire to help. May not sound much unless you know the general attitude of people living around them.

Ways to make it better...

I had more time to work with DIR. ( I work in two other places as well )

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

They have good local workers. But can this be made a self sustaining unit.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

December 22, 2009

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December 22, 2009

Developing Indigenous Resources should be an example for many. The concept of educating locals and together with them work on improving the living circumstances shows to have great long term results! Where other NGOs temporarily improve the living environment, DIR makes a long term difference. I've worked as an intern at DIR for 6 months and was amazed by the work ethic of all the employees and how they manage to pass this spirit to the local population and inspire them to work together with them on a better future for their families.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Overall improvement of health conditions and awareness among the families living in the slum, especially of pregnant women and younger children, children receive vaccinations, success in fighting malnutrition, improvement in available education in slum.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the spirit of all the employees, working hard for the great cause this organization is working on!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

extremely dedicated to their work, wanting to make any difference they can!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

improve the lives of many more people forever.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

December 21, 2009

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December 21, 2009

How many of us have ever spent our weekend or a day or two by helping our ‘near and dear ones’? The answer would be, ‘’Yeah! We try to help them out because they are close to us and we care for them’’. But how many of us have really really worked and helped the ones who are neither known to us nor related by any biological or other relation? The answer is apparent. It would surprise the people that an American, who should ideally be enjoying the mischief and pranks of his grand kids, is in reality working for the downtrodden section. He is away from his home and family so that the families in this slum area can live healthy and happy life. Two and half years ago, I joined this organization as a nutritionist. I had a mindset of working for just a month or two with these people. Meanwhile, I started enjoying the work, because there were so many things going around. People learning about health, diet and nutrition in actual terms and also implementing it in their daily lives. And the result of learning and teaching process that is analyzed at the end of every month made me more and more attached not only to the program but to the people also. I got so involved that I ended up working with the team not for months but two complete years. Had I not got married and moved to US, I would have continued with it. Working with this team has changed my outlook completely. Now I am looking forward to divert from Nutrition to Public Health.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

touching the goals in a very brief period of time.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the type of work, its really very different. One gets so much involved that the whole organization seems like a family. I really enjoyed the style of working; especially when you see people responding to you efforts in a healthy manner.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

too dedicated. The reason what I feel so is because the local staff has a satisfaction that they are working for their own people. And for the volunteers who have seen a lot of world outside realize that it is the place where things are done in the field

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

be one of the best health organizations. Because it’s accountability and dedication would make it to the top.

Ways to make it better...

I would have stayed there longer.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

I believe it’s the ‘funds’. Even this won’t have been so challenging if the government had been helpful.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

December 18, 2009

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December 18, 2009

My experience with DIR was amazing. The staff was incredibly dedicated and the Health Promoters surprised me with their amount of knowledge and eagerness to learn. The conditions they work and live in, the challenges they face daily, and the work ethic of the staff was truly inspiring. DIR is making an impact in a way that will better lives far into future. This, I believe, is the true challenge, and one that DIR is on it's way to successfully overcoming.

Photos

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The impact and influence of the Health Promoters on the people of Janta Colony. Their ability to communicate and educate has gained the trust of the people, and the people are living cleaner and healthier lives because of them.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The acceptance I felt into the community and the gratitude of the staff for my willingness to give and care.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Educated and dedicated. Hard workers. Very friendly.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Save A LOT of lives and improve the lives of millions.

Ways to make it better...

India didn't produce 123 degree heat. I was sweating a lot.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

The Indian government and funding.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

December 18, 2009

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December 18, 2009

I learned about DIR through Prof Garry Fehr at the Institute for Indian Studies at the University of the Fraser Valley (Canada). Dr. Fehr emphasized that it is a unique model that is showing excellent results in achieving its goals to improve health, social and economic conditions in the slum. As a photojournalist, I was interested in doing a project on DIR and spent four weeks in total following the Health Promoters. Without exception, the HPs demonstrated that they have a sound knowledge of local health and nutrition; it also became obvious that the residents see them as a first point of contact on related issues. Even more impressive was the sense that the daily visits to each neighborhood in the slum is strengthening the sense of community and increasing general knowledge. Of particular interest is DIR's efforts to educate children, many of whom are the primary caregivers for younger siblings because parents are away working long hours. DIR is doing great work, but it is also KEY to note in developing the skills of the local people, DIR has created a means by which the community itself is solving its own problems. Dr. Shaw also made use of me beyond a photojournalist by having me teach English classes and assist with the annual report.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

women who followed the nutrition advice of the HPs. By switching from processed foods to seasonal produce, one woman said her 4 children have moved from the red (seriously undernourished) to the green category on growth charts. And she has saved money!

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The sense of community/family that exists between DIR and its HPs, and between the HPs and the slum residents.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Well educated, well organized yet also willing to pitch in no matter what the task.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Improve the future for about 10 million children in impoverished regions of India and other developing countries.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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